Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sorting out the Outback

So, I've been delayed in getting back to working on the Mercedes. I've been putting the Outback together, but mostly have been delayed by weather. It's snowed pretty much every weekend for the past month. But, I try to do at least a little something each week.

So far, I've done the following:

  • transmission fluid flush
  • changed front differential fluid
  • changed spark plugs
  • new air filter
  • new PCV valve
  • fixed interior lighting
  • installed stereo from my old car
  • fixed/replaced broken/missing interior trim
  • replaced missing alternator tensioning assembly
  • replaced accessory drive belts
  • replaced valve cover gaskets
  • replaced vehicle speed sensor 2
  • replaced battery
I still have a few more items to take care of, but the weekend weather has slowed me down significantly. But, I'm daily driving the car and am getting closer to having the car caught up on its maintenance items. Once that's done, I'm getting back to work on the diesel. 

Here's a few pictures of this weekend's work (the speed sensor replacement):

I'll leave you with a few videos I've done of some repairs to the Outback:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The new daily driver arrives

I've been away from the Mercedes project for a few weeks now. The daily driver Subaru took a turn for the worse and lit a fire under me to get a replacement car sooner rather than later.

I hadn't seen any promising Toyotas or Hondas in a while. I came to my senses and pretty much scratched Volkswagens off the list after I went to see the Jetta that wouldn't start. Pretty much every Volvo I looked at needed a lot of expensive work. I even got to the point where I was considering rear wheel drive Mercedes, just to have something reliable.

Well, as I said, the Legacy kept getting worse. The check engine light was constantly on, and blinking with alarming regularity. Plus, the engine's idling was getting even choppier, and I believe it was using oil at an increasing rate.

Two weeks ago, I saw an ad for yet another potential replacement car - a 1995 Subaru Legacy L... Outback. This was a 2.2L car with an automatic transmission. Based on the ad and a phone conversation with the seller, it sounded like the car was in decent shape. So, that Saturday morning, I packed my wife's car with an assortment of tools and we drove an hour to see the Outback.

It was a first-year Outback and even the same Mica Ruby color as both our other Legacies. It wasn't perfect by any means. It was wearing beat-up alloy wheels and had a green hood from an old fender bender, and had bumps and bruises all over. Plus, it was sitting on an ugly set of beat-up alloy wheels. But, my philosophy is that an old Subaru should look used, much like an old truck. The interior had been cleaned - something I hadn't seen in a used car in quite some time.

The car started right up and sounded pretty good. The test drive went pretty well, so with the seller's permission, I pulled out the spark plugs (old, worn-out, and nearly seized into the cylinder heads) and ran a compression test. Compression was healthy across all four cylinders, so we made a deal and I drove home in my new daily driver.

I spent most of the rest of the weekend swapping parts over from the old car, starting with the correct Mica Ruby hood and my wheels. Then, I put the old car up for sale on Craigslist. Unfortunately, with winter weather and street parking bans, I had to get rid of the old car quickly. In its condition, the only interest I had was from junkyards, and for a lot less than I wanted. But, the car was getting needier by the day. At the last moment, a co-worker who was painfully aware of the car's mechanical condition showed interest and I let him have it for scrap value. He intends to repair or replace the engine. So, the old car will live.

I've been driving the "new" car pretty much every day and handling maintenance and repair items as time allows. New spark plugs are now installed, which is a good thing, as the old ones were worn to twice the recommended gap. I also flushed the transmission, which made a big improvement in the way the car shifted. I'm still trying to properly dial in the fluid level, but it's close now.

Overall, I'm happy with the new car. Once it's caught up on needed repairs, I'm going to move back to the Mercedes project.

When I got it home - green hood and all

The alloy wheels

Rear shot - this car has a factory roof rack

Firsr year Outback - badged with a sticker only

Side shot with my old wheels on it

Complete with correct red hood